Differentiated instruction is a philsophy for approaching teaching and learning that is grounded in research-based practices. Carol Ann Tomlinson (The Differentiated Classroom) states that DI is "consistently using a variety of instructional approaches to modify content, process, and/or products in response to learning readiness and interest of academically diverse students.”
Teachers that differentiate . . .
  • Plan lessons and units based on GEs and KUD: KUD template.doc, Reflection for KUD.doc
  • Build Community
  • Create learner profiles based on assessment: Student profile-4 per page.doc
  • Use flexible grouping: Flexible Grouping Planning Sheet-blank.doc
  • Are student centered
  • Provide multiple approaches to learning
  • Teach around the wheel . . . differentiate their teaching and how information is presented to students (visual, verbal etc.)
  • Use ongoing assessment to drive instruction
  • Differentiate the content, process or product according to students' readiness, learning style or interest.


Teachers can differentiate the content of the lesson, the process students follow, or the products students create.
  • Content: This is what students will learn. Content needs to be matched to students based on their readiness, learning style or interest. When differentiating content for your students DON'T water down the content. Rather, find a different way for students to access or work with the concepts you are teaching.
  • Process: This is the "how" of DI: How students go about processing information and ideas.
  • Product: This is the "what" of DI: How students demonstrate what they have learned.

Students have different learning profiles and one size does not fit all! To effectively differentiate the content, process and product teachers need to be aware of and respond to differences in readiness, learning style and interest.
  • Readiness is a student’s entry point relative to a particular understanding or skill. To help a student to grow, we must begin where the child is.
  • Interest refers to a child’s affinity, curiosity, or passion for a particular topic or skill. The advantage to grouping by interest is that it allows students to attach what they have been learning in class to things that they already find relevant and interesting and appealing in their own lives. Tonya's lesson using Wordle (see Tools for Kids page for link Wordle) differentiates by interest.
  • Learning style has to do with how students learn. Some are visual learners, auditory learners, or kinesthetic learners.
    (Carol Ann Tomlinson/ Diane Heacox)

To dig a little deeper, explore HERE